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First $20 Million, The
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
The First $29 Million, actually apparently titled The First $29 Million Is Always the Hardest, has a disconcertingly disjointed first 10 minutes. A flurry of shots and brief scenes left me bewildered and trying to keep up with logic gaps. Characters quickly and gracelessly join the plot's main thrust, moving hither and thither, leaving faint impressions, seeming to exist only to provide jokes and enforce stereotypes. It's an annoying method of storytelling that made me want to press pause every now and then just to provide the film with a sense of pace.
The film—call it Revenge of the Nerds in Silicon Valley—tells the story of a young geek named Caspar (Adam Garcia) attempting to find himself within the yuppie environment of Silicon Valley. It seems this young man wants to escape his mundane existence as a faceless marketing executive and join the ranks of those who actually produce things that you can hold in your hands. So he makes his way to the La Honda Institute, world-renowned research facility, armed with the challenge to build a $99 laptop. Helping Caspar in his scientific quest is the sexy neighbor (Rosario Dawson), the Val Kilmer-inspired blonde (Jake Busey), the Indian genius (Anjul Nigam), and the obese nerd (Ethan Suplee).
Unfortunately, the film's lack of its own sense of pace means that the film fails to pull off some of its screenplay's rather impressive attempts at humor. The script is by Jon Favreau of Swingers fame, and I felt his voice trying to be heard, to no avail. Another big name is Harold Ramis, and I could almost see his influence in the breeziness of the jokes, but that, too, was a vague specter.
HOW'S IT LOOK?
Fox presents The First $20 Million in a surprisingly fine anamorphic-widescreen transfer of the film's original 1.85:1 theatrical presentation, although I'm not sure this one ever saw an auditorium. And that's why it's surprising. A lot of effort seems to have been placed in this image, which shows above-average depth and detail. Background detail suffers and is somewhat soft, but close-ups are terrific. Colors are accurate, and blacks are reasonably deep. If there's a flaw, it's that the image is a tad dark. I noticed only minor compression artifacts.
If this were a major release, I might not be so impressed, but for this little film, the image quality is startling.
If you want to betray the director's original framing intentions, you can watch a sliced-n-diced pan-n-scan presentation on the flipside.
HOW'S IT SOUND?
The disc's Dolby Digital 5.1 track is front-heavy. Nevertheless, it sounds natural and clear. I noticed very few surround effects, and no real sense of envelopment.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
WHAT'S LEFT TO SAY?
If you can abide the slipshod pace, there's some minor humor to be found here. but the price-tag says nothing but "rental" to me.